American Athletic Conference rankings and reactions after Week 5 of play.
American Athletic Player of the Week
Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. completed 22-of-38 passes for 273 yards, and ran 20 times for 182 yards and three scores in the win over Tulsa.
Week 5 American Athletic Conference Rankings
1. Memphis: W, at South Florida 24-17
The Tigers went down early on the road on a night that the offense skipped a beat. And yet they survived in Tampa, another promising sign for a program that has the chops to win this conference. QB Paxton Lynch keeps delivering when Memphis needs a leader, and the defense finally played a role in a victory, holding the Bulls scoreless for nearly a 45-minute stretch.
2. Temple: W, at Charlotte 37-3
Owl QB P.J. Walker is neither prolific nor the focal point of the offense. But when he needs to make a play on third down or in the red zone, he’ll look for No. 19, senior Robby Anderson. The Fort Lauderdale native only caught three balls for 35 yards on a wet Friday night in Charlotte, but a pair of them went for six points.
3. Navy: W, Air Force 33-11
QB Keenan Reynolds rushed for 183 yards and FB Chris Swain plunged in for two scores, but the Midshipmen grabbed the first leg of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy on the backs of the D. Ken Niumatalolo’s defense has exceeded expectations in the first four games, keeping the Falcons out of the end zone until the fourth quarter, when the game was out of reach.
4. Houston: W, at Tulsa 38-24
The Cougar offense is getting better, troubling news for the rest of the American. Admittedly, it came against an iffy defense, but Houston went on the road and slapped well over 600 yards on Tulsa. And the ground game was unstoppable behind an underrated O-line, cranking out five scores and 367 yards, most from diverse combo of QB Greg Ward Jr. and RB Kenneth Farrow.
5. Cincinnati: W, Miami 34-23
Maybe the Bearcat defense has a pulse after all. Cincinnati, which had given up at least 33 points in three straight games leading up to Thursday night, held Miami to just 23 in the win. And the Bearcats stiffened when necessary, holding the Canes to 4-of-15 on third downs and 2-of-5 on red-zone touchdowns. The secondary was feisty, while LB Eric Wilson led the way with 14 stops.
6. East Carolina: W, at SMU 49-23
Might be time to ditch the two-quarterback system in Greenville. Blake Kemp and James Summers helped move the chains, though the latter was the hero for the second week in a row. Summers, a former JUCO transfer, ran for 85 yards and two scores to go along with 9-of-10 passing for 153 yards and two more touchdowns. If he continues to play this well, it won’t make sense to sideline him for even a couple of series.
7. South Florida: L, Memphis 24-17
The Bulls are beyond the point of counting moral victories. So, coming within a touchdown of unbeaten Memphis means nothing in the grand scheme of things in Tampa. The defense is still feisty, with LB Tashon Whitehurst, playing particularly well Friday. But the offense, RB Marlon Mack aside, will be the undoing of USF—and possibly the staff. QB Quinton Flowers is minimally threatening, converting just 2-of-13 third downs.
8. Tulsa: L, Houston 38-24
All of the offense in the world isn’t going to bail out the Golden Hurricane D this fall. Tulsa is overmatched on defense, yielding at least 38 points for the third time in the first four games. The team tackles poorly and is getting destroyed at the point of attack. In the meantime, QB Dane Evans will have to just keep chucking to try and keep his team within striking distance.
9. Connecticut: L, at BYU 30-13
The Husky offense won’t frighten anyone, as evidenced by another feeble effort Friday night in Provo. But sophomore RB Arkeel Newsome is giving Connecticut a little spark out of the backfield that’s been missing in recent years. He’s averaging almost five yards a carry, and accounted for more than half of the team’s yards and its only touchdown against BYU.
10. SMU: L, East Carolina 49-23
At some point soon, Chad Morris would be wise to start getting reps for all of his younger defenders. It’s become clear that this season is all about preparing for 2016. The Mustangs have now allowed at least 48 points in all but one of their five games, a trend that shows no signs of letting up. Mobile quarterbacks have been especially problematic for SMU, which gets Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. on Thursday night.
11, Tulane: W, UCF 45-31
The Green Wave could not care less that the Knights are tanking this season. Pounding UCF, in any year, is a momentous occasion for Tulane and beleaguered head coach Curtis Johnson. Young QB Tanner Lee was on the money, tossing four scoring strikes, which will provide a confidence boost. In fact, the entire is liable to build off Saturday’s improbably easy win over one of the American’s marquee programs.
12. UCF: L, at Tulane 45-31
The Knights might not win a game this season. The Green Wave is a bad squad, yet UCF wasn’t even competitive in New Orleans, falling behind at one point by four touchdowns. The team rushed for minus yards, as the O-line continues to get mauled on a weekly basis. The Knights will spend the next two months playing out the string in what will likely be a sullen end to George O’Leary’s head coaching career.